‘It’s the people in this room who have the power!’ shouts Chris Coltrane to a packed room at The Globe pub in Edinburgh, ‘so use it for good and fuck off the Tories!’
And with that, he’s done. The crowd come to life, cheering and clapping, joined by a sudden motivation to change the world – one which Coltrane is at least partially responsible for.
He talks of turning Topshop into a school sports day, and of thanking taxmen for their involvement in avoidance schemes with embarrassing parties. He takes us to the frontline of the Vodafone protests and reels off a list of his and other activists’ apparent offences (which include playing with a beach volleyball and holding an umbrella). The common theme is clear: it is not just Coltrane’s admirable involvement in activism that makes him a hero – it is his unapologetic love of his protest-come-party style of civil unrest.
‘When people throw you hate, throw a party!’ is his manifesto, and that attitude is infectious. He treats serious issues with his trademark enthusiasm for fun and freedom. He brings to life the scene of the salsa band he and his friends brought to an anti-abortion silent vigil. He smiles mischievously when he recounts the children’s library he and UK Uncut (of which he is one of the original members) created in a bank headquarters.
Coltrane’s show is also incredibly funny: his frank, self-effasive style is fun and accessible. But what makes it a four star set is what he leaves you with: a leaflet on ‘first steps in activism,’ and real desire to get up, stand up and change the world.